Special measure trusts improving

Sir Mike Richards

Chief inspector of hospitals pinpoints strong leadership in trust turnaround

Chief Inspector of hospitals Sir Mike Richards has defined strong leadership and good clinical engagement as the two key factors for turning around failing trusts.

Marking the year anniversary of the special measures scheme, Sir Richards told the HSJ that the 11 organisations put in special measures have “made progress” . The 11 trusts were put in special measures following the Keogh review that studied high mortality ratios last year.

Advocating the use of firm leadership, Sir Richards said “Without stable and strong leadership it really is difficult to make progress…The ones that have made the most rapid progress are the ones that have said ‘Ok, let’s take this as a signal for action’ and responded positively to it.”

Flourishing under special measures

Despite Sir Richards recommending that six trusts remain in special measures after inspections carried out this spring,he still believes the scheme has been a success, explaining “Historically, what have we done when trusts are failing? We’ve just got rid of one lot of management and replaced them…What I think is different about special measures is about saying we need to support this trust to become good and I think that’s a hugely different approach.” 

Sir Richards has also been noted to be pleased with the buddying system, where special measure trusts were partnered with more successful organisations to help them improve.

Another problem area that the CQC flagged with special measure trusts was the lack of clinical engagement. Sir Richards expands on this by saying “Some places clinicians and managers have failed to move forwards together. Several special measures trusts are really focusing on that engagement ad alignment with their clinical staff and I think that bodes well for the future.”

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